5 Challenges (and Solutions) for Nurse Staffing Managers

Working as a nurse manager isn’t the same as working in other management positions. Not having enough nurses on the floor can lead to fatigue, burnout, poor patient outcomes, and even deadly medical errors. To make the situation even more dire, the country is also preparing for a looming nursing shortage. If your workers aren’t satisfied, they can always find another place of employment, which can lead to inflated recruiting costs and a host of additional issues for managers.

As difficult as these challenges may seem, there’s always a solution. Use these tips to improve efficiency and your nurse retention rates, reduce burnout, and prepare your employees for the next chapters of their careers.

Flexible Scheduling

With long working hours and dozens, if not hundreds, of employees to manage, keeping track of shifts isn’t always easy. Nurses come and go, and schedules often change at a moment’s notice. Some shifts are easier to cover than others; getting folks to work the nightshift, for example, can be a nightmare.

Nurses also need time off, sometimes at the last second. They have families, loved ones, and personal responsibilities that need their attention.

Last-minute changes may be frustrating, but you also need to consider the needs of your employees if you want to keep them around for the long haul.

Solution:

If you’re having trouble keeping track of all these schedule changes, use a flexible scheduling software program to better manage employee requests and shift shortages. You can quickly send reminders to employees when a shift needs covering. Employees can also send messages right to the scheduling software program, so you can keep track of everything using a single interface.

Shift swapping, call offs, and personal requests are all part of the job, but scheduling software makes it easier to comply with the requests of your employees. You can get the coverage you need and boost your retention rates at the same time.

Respect your team’s wishes without spreading your employees too thin.

Nurse Shortages

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals will soar over the next ten years. By 2030, the U.S. will have over 1 million nurse job openings as older nurses retire.

This means competition for nurses will only get worse in the years to come. As a nurse manager, you need to think about the future of your workers and do your best to improve your retention rates, considering finding a replacement may prove challenging.

Solution:

In addition to honoring personal schedule requests, improving retention rates usually comes down to the workplace. Make sure your employees have everything they need to do their jobs, including competitive pay, health benefits, adequate time off, and on-the-job perks that keep them going like free coffee and onsite mental health services.

Nursing is a stressful job, and your team may need some help managing their mental health at work, especially if they’re recovering from a disaster, working in the ER or other high-stress environments, or dealing with a particularly difficult patient or situation.

If one of your nurses has been bullied or sexually assaulted on the floor, make sure you report the incident to the proper authorities and take action to prevent such an incident from happening again.

Get to know your nurses on a more personal level. Treat them like a member of the team instead of just another cog in the machine.

The Rise of Nurse Specialties

There are more nurse specialties than ever before. According to Nurse Journal, the most popular ones are:

  • Certified Nursing Anesthetist
  • Certified Dialysis Nurse
  • Certified Nurse Consultant
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Case Manager

Choosing a specialty is a great way for nurses to advance their careers, but, with such a demanding job, they may not have the support or resources they need to achieve their goals. There simply isn’t enough time in the day.

So how do you contend with rising demand for nurse specialties without losing the team members you have?

Solution:

Give your team access to professional development services they need to further their careers. If your nurses don’t feel as if their needs are being met, they will be more likely to seek these opportunities elsewhere.

Make it easier for your nurses to choose a specialty by partnering with a local institution or program so they can get specialty certifications on the job.

You can extend the same courtesy to new recruits. Let job candidates and aspiring nurses know that your facility supports career development and specialization.

Nurse Burnout

With a rising nurse shortage and more patients to manage, nurse burnout will naturally increase in the years to come unless the nursing industry can keep up.

Burnout isn’t just bad for retention and job satisfaction; it can lead to serious medical errors and poor patient outcomes.

Solution:

Keep your team healthy by assessing the needs of your workforce. Address issues that cause added stress on the floor, such as unsafe work environments, long working hours, or equipment shortages.

Tell your staff how much you value their time and expertise. If necessary, refer them to an onsite social worker or mental health specialist.

Teach your employees, especially new nurses, the importance of self-care in the healthcare industry, including relaxing at home, taking time off, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise.

Technology Gaps

While investing in the latest technology can be expensive, it can help you and your team in more ways than one. Incorporating more technology into the workplace will help your employees prepare for the next chapters of their careers. They can learn about the latest EHR, telehealth, and appointment scheduling systems.

This technology can also improve efficiency and employee satisfaction. Your employees can quickly upload patient information, access files, and manage their schedules. Teach your employees to work smarter, not harder, to boost your retention rates.

Solution:

Look for easy-to-use healthcare technology platforms with clear benefits. Read user reviews to get a sense of how long these programs will take to implement and whether there are any drawbacks. Use this information to pitch the benefits of these programs to the owner or manager of your facility. Highlight the struggles you and your colleagues face on the floor and this technology can improve the workplace for everyone.

The same goes for your recruiting technology. You can improve the job candidate experience and hire great nurses faster when you sign up for an applicant tracking system. These programs collect data on the application process so you can make improvements, quickly assess quality, reach out to individual applicants, and provide feedback in real-time.

To learn more about the best Applicant Tracking System for healthcare, visit JobDiva’s website.

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